MCDONOUGH, Ga. — The jury will soon be deciding the fate of Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum, the foster parents accused of killing 2-year-old Laila Daniel.
The Rosenbaums were foster parents to Laila Daniel and her older sister Millie when Laila died on Nov. 17, 2015.
The couple insists Laila died accidentally while Jennifer was trying to save her from choking on some food.
Prosecutors said Laila's death was from ongoing, violent physical abuse.
Eddie Chase and Daysha Young delivered closing statements for the prosecution on Friday. Chase circled back to the theme of what they said is the Rosenbaum’s “façade,” which they spoke about at length during opening arguments.
“The danger of a façade,” began Chase. “[That’s] what they [the Rosenbaums] projected to those around them. What they projected to Millie and Laila. What they projected to everyone was a façade.”
“You’re going to be held accountable for each and everything you did to those children,” prosecutor Daysha Young said, indicating the defendants. “You will be held accountable for each injury you inflicted on these children. Forty-nine is too many. But that’s why we’re here.”
Chase went carefully through all 49 charges the Rosenbaums are facing in relation to Laila’s death and alleged abuse of Millie. He explained why Joseph Rosenbaum is facing charges, though he was not at home when Laila died.
“He (Joseph) knew what was going on. It was negligent of him to leave those children in Jennifer’s care,“ said Chase. “How much more of a failure to act could there be knowing your wife is abusing these kids and you leave them in her care regardless.“
Jurors paid close attention and took notes during the prosecutor’s closing arguments. They did not look away from the screen as Chase went through the photos of Laila’s injuries taken after her death. Laila’s biological mother left the courtroom as these photos were shown.
“She had massive bleeding internally. She had bruises all over her body,” prosecutor Chase told the jury. “She died a painful and slow death. And think about this … the last person she saw was the person who killed her.”
Joseph Rosenbaum, seated at the defense table with Jennifer, removed his glasses and wiped his eyes. He looked down and appeared to be crying. The Rosenbaums held hands and leaned in towards each other.
Defense claims horrible ‘accident’
The Rosenbaums defense attorney said this case was about a rush to judgment.
“Someone has to pay and that’s what this is about,” Corinne Mull told the jury. “Someone has to pay but in real life sometimes there are accidents. Sometimes you can’t place fault at the feet of a person or person. And that’s the case here. There was an accident.”
Laila died from internal bleeding as the result of injuries to her internal organs.
Laila’s injuries on the day she died:
- Transected pancreas
- Severe blood loss
- Broken bones in arms and legs
- Bruising on neck, face, abdomen, legs
Jennifer told authorities the injuries to Laila were caused when she tried to do CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver when she was choking.
“This case comes down to what happened on November 17," Mull told the jury. "Dr. Sperry testified that it was a chaotic frenzied scene as Jennifer was trying to save this child.”
Mull was referencing defense witness and former GBI medical examiner Dr. Sperry who testified yesterday that Laila’s injuries could have been the result of improper life-saving measures.
“In the course of doing that she, unfortunately, caused damage to the internal organs by doing improper CPR. Improper Heimlich. And pounding on the back. And thrusting against the stomach.”
Mull then turned the jury’s attention towards the charges against Joseph Rosenbaum. He’s accused of knowing his wife abused the girls but did not stop it.
“Joseph Rosenbaum is charged in this case for one reason and one reason only,” Mull told the jury. “And that is to try to get him to turn on his wife. To say he knew she was abusing children.“
She went on to say Joseph worked two jobs when the girls lived with them.
“What bruises? Where bruises? All the bruises were done on the same day. Doctors said some were a little bit older but she couldn’t tell 5 minutes form 5 hours. They all occurred on the same day. They occurred after he left. He can’t be held to blame for his wife’s CPR and his wife’s attempts to save the child.”
Mull also said the pending lawsuits against the Dept. of Family and Child Services (DFCS) played a role in the Rosenbaums being charged for Laila’s death.
“Money was at stake. People were talking about owning DFCS. To let this go by without a show trial like this would have been negligent at best,” said Mull. “but we want to blame the Rosenbaums for which there’s absolutely no evidence. You’ve heard nothing about them to suggest anything other than they are the people this ‘façade’ is about. It’s not a façade. It’s who they are.”
When the defense finished its closing argument, the judge gave the courtroom a ten-minute break. At that point, Jennifer Rosenbaum laid her head on Joseph's shoulder and they sat together, like that, for several minutes.
The judge completed his formal reading of the charging documents in the case Friday afternoon; the jury will likely begin deliberation on Monday.
PHOTOS: Laila Marie Daniel